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Lutheran Legal League
Orlando, Florida
(904) 591-4822

Latest News & Issues

PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI

Trinity Lutheran Church applied for Missouri’s Scrap Tire Grant Program so that it could provide a safer playground for children who attend its daycare and for neighborhood children who use the playground after hours—a purely secular matter. But the state denied Trinity’s application solely because it is a church. The Eighth Circuit affirmed that denial by equating a grant to resurface Trinity’s playground using scrap tire material with funding the devotional training of clergy. The Eighth  Circuit’s decision was not faithful to this Court’s ruling in Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004), and deepened an existing circuit conflict. Three lower courts—two courts of appeals and one state supreme court—interpret Locke as justifying the exclusion of religion from a neutral aid program where no valid Establishment Clause concern exists. In contrast, two courts of appeals remain faithful to Locke and the unique historical concerns on which it relied.

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Tax Guide For & Churches Religious Organizations

Benefits and responsibilities under the federal tax law

Congress has enacted special tax laws applicable to churches, religious organizations, and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Churches and religious organizations are generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law; however, certain income of a church or religious organization may be subject to tax, such as income from an unrelated business. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers this quick reference guide of federal tax law and procedures for churches and religious organizations to help them voluntarily comply with tax rules. The contents of this publication reflect the IRS interpretation of tax laws enacted by Congress, Treasury regulations, and court decisions. The information given is not comprehensive, however, and does not cover every situation. Thus, it is not intended to replace the law or be the sole source of information.

HOSANNA-TABOR EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH AND SCHOOL v. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION ET AL.

Petitioner Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School is a member congregation of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The Synod classifies its school teachers into two categories: “called” and “lay.” “Called” teachers are regarded as having been called to their vocation by God. To be eligible to be considered “called,” a teacher must complete certain academic requirements, including a course of theological study. Once called, a teacher receives the formal title “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” “Lay” teachers, by contrast, are not required to be trained by the Synod or even to be Lutheran. Although lay and called teachers at Hosanna-Tabor generally performed the same duties, lay teachers were hired only when called teachers were unavailable.

OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO - DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The petitioners, 14 same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased, filed suits in Federal District Courts in their home States, claiming that respondent state officials violate the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or to have marriages lawfully performed in another State given full recognition. Each District Court ruled in petitioners’ favor, but the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed.

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